Massachusetts woman fights to prevent dog from being euthanized

A woman is appealing a decision made by the city of Somerville, which has determined that her dog, Rocco, should be euthanized after it attacked a man on Oct. 31. The owner maintains that the bullmastiff is not an aggressive dog and that the attack is an isolated incident. However, it is the severity of the injuries the man suffered that led to the decision to have the dog put down.

The woman claims that she was not home on the night of the dog attack. Her roommate was in their apartment, however. The roommate had not realized that the 6-year-old dog had escaped through an open door. When the roommate noticed yelling in the street, she ran outside to discover that Rocco was fighting with a German shepherd. When the owner of the German shepherd tried to intervene, Rocco bit the man's hands. A local dog trainer has stated that the dog bites were categorized at level five of six, and a bite level of six is considered to cause the victim's death.

Somerville Animal Control originally ordered the dog to be put under quarantine at its home; however, after considering the victim's injuries, officials decided to quarantine Rococo in the city kennel. Rocco's owner has stated that Rocco was adopted from an East Boston owner that had been neglecting the dog. She maintains that Rocco is not beyond help, and she wants the opportunity to train him further.

A public hearing was held on Nov. 14 where the victim of the attack described the incident and did not seem to indicate whether or not he felt Rocco should be put down. The dog is scheduled to be put down on Dec. 9, but there is an appeal in the works.

While it's always heartbreaking to see a dog euthanized, it is occasionally seen as the right thing to do. A dog trainer commenting on the case likened the situation to the McDonald's coffee lawsuit - the punishment may not initially seem to fit the crime, but one must always consider the very severe injuries that the victim suffered.

Source: somerville.patch.com, "Dog Owner Appealing Euthanasia Decision" Chris Orchard, Nov. 26, 2013